Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Cambodia, Nonces and the River Kwai!

A British passport is a powerful thing, but when you enter Thailand you get thirty days to stay before you have to go out, then you have to do a thing called a VISA run.
This my dear readers is what I had to do. I wason day thirty and had to get outand come back in again before Ally flew to Australia. So I spent the most delightful day on a bus crammed with Japnese tourists camera toting and screaming at anything all the way to a town called Poipet. Once at poipetI had to endure the rigours of the visa run. A sinple task if you think about it, one crosses the border and then comes back. But my goodness the Thai side is so ordered and fantastially sinple compared to Cambodia. First I get my VISA, a massive page sticker in my passport. Then I get my stamp for leaving Thailand. Then once through no mans land where the army was burning bushes sothat when you enter cambodia you are surrounded by an eerie mist, you suddenly have the cattle shed of Cambodian customs. I looked around the people who were queueing to go through to Cambodia, and I am so sure that many of the panama hatted men in linen suits were there for the children!!!!
Never have I been accosted so much by so many for such a time. There were beggers galore, poor little filthy children clinging to anything possible and then the customs officials. I ave never met any more corrupt people than those I met that day. I knew it would cost me nothong aapart from buying the VISA. But my goodness do they demand money. Luckily I stood my grounds and didnt move. My face put on an expression of hard, gritty determination and I didnt move. Finally I was stamped in and then out. My total time in Cambodia amounted to a mear 30 minutes, but my bus was leaving and so one photograph later I was begger dodgying and back stamped again into Thailand. So there is the tale of my Cambodian visit. Its a shame as I so really want to see that country, but at that time there was no other option but to visa ruj it from bangkok and then return to the capital for Ally's last days.
I write tghis on my own, Traveller Bengy is now a lone traveller as everyone has either buggered off to Australia or home. I am not going to Oz til March so one month and the world is my oyster. Lets rock!!!!
So let me fill you in with all that has been happening so far.
I last wrote about the fire on koh Phi phi,which to me feels like an eternity ago. But since then Ally and I went from phi phi after seeing the glorius phi phi leh to the remote and un touristy haven of Koh Lanta. Oh what a place, almost undiscovered by travellers, the beaches and sea were emaculate and the sun beamed down relentlessly causing my skin to tann like old leather. We spent 2 nights there in a beach cabin for absolute peanuts and hired a motorbike which I rode with Ally clutching on the back all over the island. Up mountains onto isolated beaches and along dirt tracks that I have no idea how I didnt crash.
The place was home to some very random people, such as ex pat Brits who had escaped for probably tax or criminal reasosn and permantly live on the beach. One such fellow who went to a lively bar withus told tales of the tsunami and how we in Britain knew more about it than those in Thailand at the time. Still the signs of devastation can be seenall over the west coast of Thailand.Finally after a few peaceful days in Ko Lanta we had the ardous journey from one lanta island to another and then bussed on to the small ity of Trang. Once at Trang where we would catch the train back up to Bangkok I am sure we were the only white peole in the entire city. We explored and basically it was us and thats it. So I feasted on chickens hearts sold on a skewer on the street, it remins me of my Gran!!
The night train back to Bangkok was uneventful, the party carriage actually kicked us out at 10 butthat didnt stop us devouring many large bottles of chang and randomly abusing Spanish peoplke who would not belive we were only 23 and 24 and thought I was 29, oh the cheek!!!!
The vibrant city that never sleeps where once the clubs close an illegal one is just round the corner where you have to access it througha garage. But once you are in you wish you wre out, as all you can see is letcherous old white men and young Thai ladies or boys even lapdancing them and then leaving with someone who is ol enough to be your father. When I am drunk I love shouting 'Nonce' out really loudly!!!!
The reason we came back to Bangkok was to see France and Mike before they left to go home emotionally with a tear in their eye. So we had arrived early after not sleeping at all on the train and found some grotty hostel off Khaosan road. That night the 4 muskateers werereunited and a drunken hedonistic night ensued where many buckets of sangsom whiskey, chang, singha, beer lao and otehr randomness were drunk in somethiong the very opposit of moderation. France was the first to leave and mike followed him the follwoijg morning.So after one drunken night and many stories told about their phuket trip and our fire fighting, muay thai fighting, island hopping adventures it was down to the two of us again. Ben and Ally's travels continue.
The nest day Ally and I buggered off to near the Myanmar (Burma) border to go on a very moving and emotional homage trip to the bridge over the river kwai and to tarvelalong the Burma Thailand death railway build by prisoners of war, 30,000 of which were British. The war cemeteries were a humbling experience, thinking of all those lost souls burioed under a tropical sun. I felt moved and humble to stand there reading the graves of those who had fallen, some graves are 'known unto God' with the unidenbtified body in the earth underneath, never to have his name known.
The bridge itself is unused by trains now and was covered in Japnese tourists which dumbfounded me a bit, so many cameras and they all seemed so happy to be there! That I will never understand! I walked the bridge accross the river where houses are towed by the most rudimentary boats and then after catching a bus tothe station caught the train back to Konchanaburi to get a bus to bangkok. The train was old and rickety and it made me smile to see a section with a sign saying 'reserved for Monks/disabled'. As though they were the same thing!!!!
Later that day Ally and I went to a water fall but after one look at dodgy white men playing with little Asian children while no visble wife or partner were present we scurried away with the word 'nonce' on the tip of our tongue.
Lunhc was a scary thying as we ate on a barge some gcrazy old German took a shine to me and started taking pictures of me with his mate 'Zippy'. Yes his mate was called Zippy!! Why do I attract weierd people, Ally thinks its the funniest thing ever to see the weird loner hone in on me and ask me about the Queen!!! I think its juts plain odd!!
That day I also sat in the sun with an orange clad buddhist monk and tried to have a conversation! But my lack of Thai (Although I have learnt the word for ladyboy and penis) and his lack of Englsih meant the whle thing was fruitless but he was a lovely fellow. The train also stopped in the middle of nowhere to pick up a monk who appeared out of a bush!As we were staying in Bangkok we might as well do the sights we thought. So we did the Grand palace and the temples there, Wat arun which looks more like a missile than a temple where you have to cross the river onthe worlds worst ferry and finally Wat Pho with the 40 meter reclining gold buddha. Once again there weirdos honed in on me!!!!!!!
Well thats all at the moment, many things are too naughty to tell because I know my family read this. But apart from that we met many great people whom we went o some dodgy illegal clubs wiht and even managed to pinch a hooka sheisha pipe in a restaurant and not pay one baht for it!!!
Tomorrow my travels and adventures start again. I am bussing my way up to Chang Mai and then after a few days of whatever I will go down the mekong river to Laos and then on to the capital of Laos Vietviene!
Another day, another country. But this time I am going solo!
Let the fun begin and the hedonism continue.
For now I am off to eat chicken hearst and drink ice cold beer in the blistering sun.
Remember, we are all spiritual beings, having a human experience!!


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